Abbott’s vow of silence

First published in The Spectator Australia, 13 December 2014

Without even a John McTernan to guide them, the Liberal Party of Australia has generated a communications debacle which would have made the Scotsman proud. The media lock-down with which the government began its term looked like a strategy. But like McTernan’s capers, it turned out to be a one-trick wonder; a tactic in a void. Predictably, the little senators moved into the vacuum and soon began to lead the news cycle. Jolly old Palmer delighted many interviewers by ripping out his ear piece and granting them a headline without the tedium of an interview. Following the arrival of his delightfully quirky team, Senator Leyonhjelm rollicked into the headlines with a wicked turn of phrase.

Meanwhile the government was flying kites. They flew the Medicare copayment kite, but failed to use the public reaction to refine their messaging and build in exceptions. They flew the tough budget kite, found it resonated, but then produced a budget full of squidgy bits that undermined the message of fiscal prudence. Unfortunately, though kite-flying is a canny way to finesse messaging ahead of a political sales job, Tony’s kites turned out to be entirely recreational.

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Tony’s baby deserves a bright future

First published 23 August 2014 in The Spectator Australia

Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme is a prescient policy. Efforts to kill it off, both from within his party and from without, are at best short-sighted, at worst envious.

The demographics of Australia are changing quickly, in line with developments across the Western world, where women are attaining higher levels of education, higher salaries and more powerful careers than ever before. In Australia, Roy Morgan recently found that 40% of households have a female breadwinner. And despite remaining inequalities in favour of men, the trend is reversing to favour women. That represents a massive social shift, yet media examination is largely confined to gawping at the domestic chore ratio and sexual dynamics between men and their financially empowered spouses.

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